Saturday, August 13, 2016


The New Yorker's John Cassidy wonders whether Donald Trump is floating dangerous ideas -- that the election is being stolen and that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are the founders of ISIS -- because he's trying to build a white natonalist movement in America:
[In] escalating [his rhetoric] with his use of the phrase “founder of isis” ... Trump is, on the face of it, harming his prospects for November. He certainly doesn’t sound like he’s trying to win over the soccer moms in Columbus, or the office workers in Tampa, that he needs to win the election. He sounds like he is talking to his angry base, and supplying them with an inflammatory narrative that can be trotted out for years, and decades, to come. It’s a tactic that politicians outside the United States, such as Jean-Marie Le Pen and Jörg Haider, have used to good effect in building up far-right nationalist movements.

Then there are Trump’s increasingly frequent references to the likelihood of his losing in November, and to the possibility that foul play will be responsible....

It is, of course, a staple of extremist parties of the left and right that democracy is a sham, and that elections count for nothing. And once you have delegitimized an election result, or an elected leader, you can justify all sorts of extra-electoral, and indeed anti-democratic, actions.
Cassidy concludes that Trump is saying all this because he's "self-centered, shortsighted, and insecure," and is now "flailing around for excuses to explain a humiliating defeat in the making." But Cassidy adds that a future neo-fascist could build on what Trump is doing now.

I appreciate the warning. However, I think Cassidy is overlooking the roots of Trump's rabble-rousing.

On stolen elections, Cassidy makes no mention of the years-long effort by Karl Rove and the Bush administration to push the notion that widespread voter fraud is the reason Democrats win elections, an effort that led to the current wave of vote-suppression laws in Republican states, particularly after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013. Cassidy also overlooks the right-wing media efforts to demonize ACORN and identity voting irregularities where they really didn't exist.

Trump now says that the only way he'll lose Pennsylvania is if there's cheating, despite the fact that he's far behind in the polls. Where did he get that idea? From the saturation coverage Fox News and other conservative media outlets gave to an ultimately insiginificant act of alleged voter intimidation in Philadelphia by a couple of members of the tiny extremist group known as the New Black Panther Party.

Cassidy also fails to grasp that Trump's "founder of ISIS" remarks didn't exist in a vacuum -- he notes that Trump first said this in January of this year, but in 2015, as I told you a couple of days ago, many right-wing media outlets, as well as presidential rivals Rick Santorum and Carly Fiorina and future Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani, accused Obama and/or Clinton of creating ISIS.

Cassidy thinks it's conceivable, though unlikely, that Trump is consciously laying the groundwork for a future fascist movement. Cassidy needs to recognize what Fox and the GOP have been doing for years: trying to hold together a coalition that's partly white nationalist and partly old-line conservative. They've doled out conspiratorial red meat to less informed, angrier voters, then trotted out "respectable" conservatives on Sunday talk shows and in the mainstream press throughout the week. The belief, until this year's primaries, was that the angry base could be kept in its place, even as it remained loyal to the party.

Republicans and Rupert Murdoch never entertained the possibility that someone who actually believed all the nonsense peddled on Fox could win the presidential primaries, even after Sarah Palin became a know-nothing superstar, and even after the Tea Party slipped the leash and started a mini-civil war within the GOP. But here we are, with a nominee who imbibed and believed all that crazy talk is now repeating it.

Trump can't see what harm can come from his rhetoric -- after all, Sean Hannity's been saying the same things for years. But Trump is modeling himself after people who know how to rouse the rabble and then sell them Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan, even if they never quite figured out how to sell them John McCain or Mitt Romney. Trumpism is Murdochism without the safety valves. And Trump doesn't get that, because he probably thinks the safety-valve stuff is boring. But if he's leading the GOP in a fascist direction, he's doing so without knowing what the hell he's doing.


Ten Bears said...

Fascism creeps. When we read deeper than the "when they came for the homosexuals I didn't speak up because I'm not a homosexual" canard, history rewritten by those in a position to get away with it, we find credible accounting that Fascism creeps. It sneaks in the backdoor not wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross but incrementally, in small steps, with each loss of a civil liberty "for the good of (white) 'society'". With each breakdown of common courtesy, with the growing acceptability of schoolyard bullying, the glorification of ignorance, the name-calling, the incitations to violence... just wake up one morning and you're there, NAZIs. Embrace it 😠

I'm still not unconvinced he's not in the bag for Clinton, which would of course take us to characteristic number fourteen of the Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism: fraudulent, rigged, or sham elections.

Frank Wilhoit said...

The key word is "parrot". Much as I love parrots, Trump (or candidate X) has an ethical obligation not to be one and his people have an ethical obligation not to listen to one. The nearly-universal shirking of these obligations is an index of the very poor health of our polity. But this is no more new than are, as you point out, the details of Trump's rhetoric.

Feud Turgidson said...

Cassidy's Engish and that shows in his 'outsider' POV. I actually like reading outsider POV reports because they can raise things we miss - like drifting towards fascism. Except, we're not missing them, it the English, Cassidy's people, who've missed THEIR drift toward 'economic nationalism' and white supremacists in the form of their UKIP. It's the English that are so insular they didn't see how disregarding their process of selecting representatives for the European Parliament would backfire on the non-fascist conservative, liberal, iib-dem, labor and socialist MPs that occupy most of Parliament.

Also, I find Cassidy kind of BORING mofo of a writer. I think I'd rather listen to that Malcolm Tucker fictional character's take on our process.

Victor said...

To mix two cliche's, tRUMP is like a surfer, and riding a wave that he liked; and, he's dancing with who brung him to this party.

One last thing:
It sure wasn't tRUMP who created ISIS (ISIL).
How do I know?
They're still in "business!"

Rand Careaga said...

I'm still not unconvinced he's not in the bag for Clinton

Whoa! That's some kinda recursive litotes you got going there!

Maxwell's Demon said...

Actually they did sell their people McCain and RMoney, but only to the GOP, the country as a whole wisely rejected them. They have sold McConnell well enough to make him the Senate Majority Leader and Ry-ayn enough to be Speaker and pet "intellectual". But once again the voting public is smarter (barely and not always) to have kept them out of the Executive Branch so far.

But it seems that failed to throw enough bones to the rabble (along with the red meat) to keep them in line. Oh Darn! (now THAT donnie, is sarcasm).

Feud Turgidson said...

ACK! I forgot about THIS:

For those of you with Rick Hasen on yer Rave Fave list, just go there.

I've seen these Consent Decree animals before. For a newby like Trump claims to be, what happens now is that the DNC sends an email and delivered a formal message to the RNC, copies to the FEC and the clerk of the federal court.

Since Trump has the attention span of a squirrel, it'll take at least this weekend to go thru all his various Stages of Donald in processing this, but in the end it'll be the attorneys for each of the RNC and the Making American Grate Again Trump campaign who will have met and realized, Holy jumping come to Jeebus, we got to get the Boss to stop this shit or else he'll get his I Fought The Law dander up and, hooboy, there'll be 50 shades of series schadenfreude in this for HillaC and Dems throughout the land.

Feud Turgidson said...

None of the above means I disagree with Steve M. Has anyone else read or seen Wolf Hall, the series by Hillary Mantel on Cromwell and Henry VIII? this long portrait by Maggie Haggerman et al

seems just like Henry VIII turning to Cromwell and asking after Woolsey right after skewering Woolsey; and like when right after Henry allows the official murder of Thomas Cromwell, he spends the remaining few years of his life largely talking about hom much he misses Cromwell.

My ABSOLUTE FAVE part of the Haggerman piece, tho, is the scene described by that weirdo phony econ putz Stephen Moore, in Trump's yuge main office in Trump Tower, as Moore and Art Laffer ARGUE in front of Trump about some tax deduction or incentive or whatever those Ultra Idiots "argue" over, and Moore is trying to convince Haggerman or her co-writer that Trump:
A) was following all that, and
B) showed signs of, I dunno what but Moore claims, human thought,

and THEN Haggerman shifts to a person present at the same meeting who describes Trump suddenly blurting out that he wants a child care credit because Yvanka.

Brilliant boffo stuff! Right up there with Lewis Carroll's Mad Tea Party!

So that's got me convinced: Trump doesn't carry the kind of Hitlerian or Nixonian baggage to sustain his (illegal) threat to turn this election into a nation of voters all of whom have to walk past armed idiot plaid-shirts hulking outside polling stations.

Not only is it over, Trump knows it's over and he's become way too bored to commit to any strategy over anything. He's not just a squirrel, he's a juvenile squirrel. Who TF knows what TF he does now, tho my money is on keeping an eye on the money. I think from here on in the only way Trump can justify to himself sustaining any interest in this process he neither emjoys nor is any good at is if he spends a serious among of time every day pulling money out of this failing venture. He's done again and again, often right in front of creditors and bankruptcy court attorneys and even judges.

He's now got some tens of millions of small donor money is his campaign, yet he's tell the RNC, YOU do all the GOTV, I dunno even WTF that is already and I don't care. And he's not using it to buy TV ads. And he's CLOSING not opening Trump Grate-making offices, and letting staff go, and stiffing workers and contractors like always. I think when he said publicly, 'Belivve me, I'm not going to treat my own money invested in this sonovabitch as 'priority' for repayment, that was one of about 183,452,983 blatant lies this grifter has told since last weekend.

I think we're gonna make it out of this relatively clean. Then next, on Fox: a four year run of mONSTOR HOROR THRILLER CHILLER HILDABEAT THEATER OOOO SO SCARY!

BroD said...

"It sure wasn't tRUMP who created ISIS (ISIL).
How do I know? They're still in "business!"

Bingo! Someone smart & nasty could use Trump as a tool to build a movement but "He, Trump" himself couldn't organize his way out of a wet paper bag.

Bob Risse said...

Hot cooked Spam and eggs...

Bob Risse said...

KenRight said...

You're probably right. But since you can't see what "harm" comes from the rhetoric of the likes of BLM, La Raza and the Chamber of Commerce, let's hope Trump doesn't define "harm" in your terms and keeps the ball rolling.

Ed Baptist said...

From my home in Durham, NC, it's easy to see that the NC GOP regards all votes for Democrats as fraudulent by definition. It is amazing to see them running on raising teacher pay this year. For many years, the goal of the state government was to make NC number one in education in the Southeast. After the Great Recession and GOP takeover in Raleigh, teacher pay was "almost as good as Mississippi", and other states made successful teacher raids here. Now there have been some increases in teacher compensation, but many teachers feel that it is not done in a fair manner. I read that principals were not getting raises, but they might be eligible for higher pay on the basis of their teaching credentials. Someone commented that this was not the way to treat managers, but perhaps the state government thinks that public schools are only a holding action until the full implementation of charter schools.

Ken_L said...

'even after Sarah Palin became a know-nothing superstar'

Surely that would have reinforced the GOP establishment's belief that the crazies could be contained. For all her hints about running and her antics like the bus tour, Palin was never a credible candidate for elective office. There were solid reasons for thinking the same would apply to Trump. Indeed to this day, it stretches credulity that such a self-evident buffoon can be attracting the support of more than 40% of Americans.

Ten Bears said...

While it has been made perfectly clear the Democrat neither want nor need my vote this year - and I'm totally cool with that - but come two thousand and twenty the First Woman President in the History of the United States (Foke Yeah!)!!!®©™ will both need and want my vote. I'll give her this, I'll make this promise and as an Oath Keeper to a Higher Standard I keep my promises: if in the next four years she prosecutes Sarah Palin for her culpability in bullet that went through Gabrielle Gifford's head and the people who died around her, I will vote he re-election.

Dark Avenger said...

Ken, if you feel threatened by BLM, go buy a white hood sheets, and a pallet of Depends.

Green Eagle said...

Trumpism is Hitlerism without the SA; and judging by Trump's remarks over the last couple of weeks, I am not sure that he doesn't have something like that in mind too.

Philo Vaihinger said...

As to tone and craziness I think you have it about right.

But your analysis - in this post, anyway - ignores that Trump represents the triumph of the paleocon, Buchananite faction of the GOP that's been around for decades over the Wall Street, globalist, neocon faction that most of the party "establishment" represent and that has, up to Trump's takeover, controlled the GOP agenda.